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European conference "Protecting Children and Young People from Sexual Violence with a Focus on the New Media: Perspectives for Europe"

Published on: 13.07.09
Source: Federal Ministry for Families, Seniors, Women and Youth

The European conference "Protecting Children and Young People from Sexual Violence with a Focus on the New Media: Perspectives for Europe" was held on 30th of June in Berlin. Main focus of the conference was the protection of children and young persons against sexual violence on the Internet. The event was organised by the Federal Ministry for Families, Seniors, Women and Youth, UNICEF Germany , Save the children Germany, Innocence in Danger and ECPAT Germany. Participants from all around Europe discussed strategies to improve the safety of young people in the new media. Also the European police authority Europol, the Federal Criminal Police Office and several experts attended the conference.

The German Federal Minister for Families, Seniors, Women and Youth, Ursula von der Leyen, mentioned the Internet as medium used daily by children and young persons. Therefore young people should be aware of the Internet as source of entertainment and information but as a source of dangers. For example in chatrooms children can become victims of sex offenders who pretend to belong to the same age group as their victims. Thus they try to achieve the trust of the young persons. Another problem is child sexual abuse material on the Internet a problem that can only be fought internationally. Sex offenders shall be prosecuted and victims shall be supported as much as possible.

Rob Wainwright, director of Europol, added that the dissemination of child sexual abuse material is a global problem and that needs transnational action. Kathrin Wieland, director of the organisation "Save the children" explained that victims of abusive need to be identified in a better way. The Final declaration of the International Conference contains 16 conclusions, e.g.:

  • all forms of production, dissemination and portrayal of physical and sexual violence against children and young people or rather the initiation of sexual abuse in and through the new media must be eliminated;
  • international cooperation must be stepped up on all levels with regard to punishment and criminal prosecution, as well as with regard to identifying, accompanying and supporting victims;
  • the responsibility for the protection of children must be borne by the whole of society,including the private sector and especially social networks in the new media;
  • we must promote the sharing of know-how and best practices at international level as regards ongoing and future research projects in the area of combating illegal content and damaging behaviour online.

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